Elissa Helms

Associate Professor
Head of Department
Zrinyi u. 14
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Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, USA, 2003
MA, Cultural Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, USA, 1998
BA, International Relations, Bucknell University, USA, 1991
Academic/Professional Experience and Achievements: 

Research Areas:

Gender, Nationalism, Ethnicity, Gender in Muslim societies, NGOs and social/political activism, Gender and ethnic violence, Ethnography of post-conflict and post-socialist societies

Central / Eastern Europe, former Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Selected Publications:

Rejecting Angelina: Bosnian War Rape Survivors and the Ambiguities of Sex in War, Slavic Review 73(3), Fall 2014: 612-634.

The Movement-ization of NGOs? Women’s Organizing in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina. In, Theorizing NGOs: States, Feminisms, and Neoliberalism, edited by Inderpal Grewal and Victoria Bernal. Durham, Duke Uviversity Press, 2014: 21-49.

Innocence and Victimhood: Gender, Nation, and Women's Activism in Postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.

Bosnian Girl: Nationalism and innocence through images of women. In Retracing Images: Visual Culture after Yugoslavia, edited by Slobodan Karamanić and Daniel Šuber. Leiden: Brill, 2012: 195-222.

The Gender of Coffee: Women, Refugee Return, and Reconciliation Initiatives after the Bosnian War, Focaal 57, Summer 2010:17-32.

Gendered Justice: Campaigning by and for Women War Survivors in Muslim Dominated Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Isabelle Delpla and Magali Bessone (eds.), Peines de guerre: La justice internationale et l’ex-Yougoslavie [Trials of War: International Justice and the former Yugoslavia]. Paris: Editions de l’EHESS, 2010 (in French; English edition planned).

The White Plague: National-demographic Rhetoric and its Gendered Resonance after the Post-Yugoslav Wars, co-authored with Stef Jansen. In Gender in Armed Conflicts and in Post-War Reconstruction, edited by Christine Eifler and Ruth Seifert (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2009): 219-243.

East and West Kiss: Gender, Orientalism, and Balkanism in Muslim-Majority Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slavic Review 67(1), Spring 2008: 88-119.

The New Bosnian Mosaic: Social Identities, Collective Memories, and Moral Hierarchies in a Post-War Society. Co-editor and co-author of Introduction chapter (with Xavier Bougarel and Ger Duijzings), (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

“‘Politics is a Whore’: Women, Morality and Victimhood in Post-War Bosnia-Herzegovina.” In The New Bosnian Mosaic. Xavier Bougarel, Elissa Helms and Ger Duijzings (eds.), (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007): 235-353.

Gendered Transformations of State Power: Masculinity, International Intervention, and the Bosnian Police, Nationalities Papers 34(3), July 2006: 343-361. (Co-editor of special issue, "Masculinities After Yugoslavia")

Current Research Projects:

My book, Innocence and Victimhood: Gender, Nation and Women’s Activism after the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina was recently published by the University of Wisconsin Press' Critical Human Rights series. Through an ethnographic study of local women’s NGO (non-governmental organization) activism in the Bosniac (Muslim) dominated areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the book explores the ambiguities produced by claims to victimhood, ambiguities that become clear, I argue, through their gendered meanings and through the realization that what is ultimately at stake are claims to innocence and moral purity. I show how initiatives by and for Bosnian women in the aftermath of the profoundly gendered violence of the 1992-5 war perpetuated and complicated the association of women with victimhood, war, and ethno-national affiliation. I draw out the implications of women activists’ strategic use of essentialist representations and victim identities which were mobilized in order to bolster moral claims, shape political visions, pursue foreign funding, and wage campaigns for post-war justice. My aim is to challenge “common sense” associations of femininity with victimhood, innocence, and lack of agency especially in relation to war.

Awards and Honors:

American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Dissertation Fellowship in East European Studies (2002-3)

Provost’s Development Fund Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh (2002-3)

Institute for the Study of World Politics Dissertation Fellowship (2000)

International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) Individual Advanced Research Fellowship (1999-2000)

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